Wednesday, April 4, 2012

technology and the farmer

I have been thinking about technology a lot lately. My relationship to it, and the amount a person needs in their life to be happy. In contrast to the home I was brought up in, my lifestyle is very low tech. I don't have the TV and movie playing devices (in their earlier incarnations or current) and there are no video games here either. I ditched my microwave in the kitchen, and I am fine with not repairing or replacing the dryer. There are no auto-drip coffee makers, Kitchen Aids, blenders, or toasters. There is no cable, no air conditioning, and the conventional heat system has reverted to a backup barely ever used. I do not use my broken dishwasher.

I do not I do not miss these things. I do not feel I need them.

What do I use? My ten-year old computers, my iPhone, my electric stovetop and oven. I watch documentaries and the Daily Show on Hulu to unwind. I run this website and fledgling business of workshops and writing through the internet and my home. I am not, as I have said before, anti technology. I just don't want to use the parts that get in the way of my own goals and well being. A cable television in my house and a stack of video games and DVDs mean I would not be writing into the night. I don't have an important and busy life with three kids or an executive job that requires me to save as much time as possible in the kitchen. I love to cook, do dishes, and ponder while I listen to audiobooks and putter. Again, I have no qualms with technology, efficiency, or convenience. But I use them all as tools. The life I chose requires a kind of utilitarian presence, and I want to give it my full attention.

I understand my choices may seem contrary, and I understand they won't work for everyone. I am sure there are plenty of people who think a smartphone is the Devil's hands but would wear armor into battle for their dishwashers. Everyone has their vices and favorites. I am curious what things for you are must-haves and what you would like to give up? Do people in your family demand television even if you want to give it the boot? Would you rather go to prison than live without AC? I suppose geography, abilities, and family all tie into this. What is your relationship to technology? What would you do if the power grid broke down? Or if all those machines and distractions didn't work?


Blogger Sam said...

I'd be a lost woman without my computer and my iPhone. I could stand to use them less though, not get sucked into the void of wasting hours, yes hours, flicking through cute captioned cat pictures. I do enjoy reading books on my iPhone though, it makes it easy to read one handed in any lighting conditions.
I like to line dry clothes in the summer, but in the winter it's nice to have a dryer. The intense cold of freezing wet clothing just isn't good for the joints, and as a massage therapist I have to baby my hands a bit. Similarly I have a kitchenaid-type stand mixer, it's so old and blocky it gets its own cupboard, all the parts are metal and the house shakes when you use it, but some days when I'm making a lot of bread its easier on my hands to let the machine to the majority of the kneading with the dough hook.
I rarely watch television, around here tv has become a sad way to socialize with my family. either I"m sitting with them and there's a tv screen blaring in our faces, or I"m in my bedroom, one of the few rooms there is no tv. I'm trying to bring back family board game night, but they're not having it.
The dishwasher is handy to have with our family of five to seven depending on the meal, but I think when my fiance and I move in together we won't bother with one.

April 4, 2012 at 9:14 AM  
Blogger Rebecca said...

I ditched the microwave five years ago (they creep me out, in a were-all-gonna-get-cancer kind of way) and people think I'm really weird for that. My advice for people who want to ditch the microwave is to stick it in the basement for a month and see if you can live without it. You will. :-)

April 4, 2012 at 9:26 AM  
Blogger Rebecca said...

ps. The only thing about dishwashers, is that they actually use a LOT less water than hand-washing dishes. So my eco-friendly-lets-conserve-water lifestyle kind of makes the dishwasher a useful tool.

April 4, 2012 at 9:27 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I try to find a balance, as I'm sure we all do. I use my computer a lot, so it would stay. Occasionally we plug in the TV to watch a movie together, but it could go without us missing it - we've never had cable, and we're trying to get back to reading aloud to each other. I don't have a smartphone, but I use and love my 7 year old iPod for music and my 1980's radio in the kitchen. We don't have a dishwasher and I could do without the microwave, but I'm rather fond of my immersion blender for soup and my kitchenaid, especially when I'm making a lot of bread or bagels.

For me a lot of it comes down to being able to do things for myself. Sometimes, a bit of help is nice when things are busy or I'm tired. I recognize that basic things like my oven and running water are technology on which I'm reliant too, so I try to go easy on myself. But I'm always proud that I can knead bread, do and hang laundry, play or listen to music, make dinner, and generally entertain myself without a whole lot of very new devices on hand.

April 4, 2012 at 9:32 AM  
Blogger Project Somos Children's Village said...

When we moved to Guatemala over a year ago, there were a number of technology-related things I was determined to load into our vehicle for the drive from Canada. I have not regretted bringing any of them; food processor, juicers (citrus and Champion) and most importantly, my air popper! Living here is pretty low tech otherwise. We only have cold running water so boil for washing dishes. Hot water for showers is produced through a "widow maker"-an electrical device heats the water on its way out of the spout. We have a washing machine and hang dry all year. Which is a huge issue during the rainy season when it can take DAYS of removing and re-hanging clothes! We don't do TV but do have our laptops for watching movies or shows when we need a little down time. Because we spend lots of time offline when we're working on building the Children's Village, I am grateful for my computer and its battery as I work from my "office" (any beautiful spot I set up) on the land! In terms of tools-that's another whole department. My husband and all our workers are SO grateful that the majority of the truck was filled with useful tools when we drove here! I don't think about technology much because I am so grateful for what I do have and don't seem to pine for what we don't. It is all very obvious when the power goes out though!

April 4, 2012 at 9:45 AM  
Blogger Meredith A said...

why not sell your dishwasher and dryer to someone who is willing to fix them or for scrap? you need the money.

April 4, 2012 at 9:46 AM  
Blogger Sharon said...

Ah, I love this conversation! I have it with myself all the time. I am one of those who thinks that smarphones and social media sites are obnoxious and a waste of time...for ME. I do get annoyed when I am having a converstation with someone and they are constantly touching/checking their smartphone...usually for facebook or twitter updates.

But thats just me:)

I do love the internet. I am on it most of the day at my office job, so I try to stay computer-free at home.

I have not owned a dishwasher for 10 years. The house I rented did not have one, when i finally bought it 2 years ago, I just didnt care to bother with it.

I dont use my dryer. If I dont hang outside, I have a HUGE awesome rack that I built in my basement last year.

I rarely use the microwave, but I love my stove. I use a stovetop pressure cooker and a vintage percolator.

To each his/her own, but I am on mission to cut back of tech as much as I can.

April 4, 2012 at 9:48 AM  
Blogger karental said...

Let's see...

I would like to give up cable TV, but Mister isn't ready yet. I rarely watch during the day (except for baseball, and more often I use the computer to listen to games.) I have an outside clothes line for drying but I would never give up my washer - no way do I want to wash clothes by hand. I can make bread by hand but prefer to use my Kitchenaid since I make bread at least 3times a week. Our microwave is over 25 years old so when it finally dies we will probably not replace it. I love my smartphone as I use it to keep in contact with our sons, as a music player, a camera and an e-book reader, but I could live without it. I love my computer and wouldn't want to be without it. Since I lost my job I use the computer for social contact. Finally, I'm a big fan of indoor plumbing and clean water.

April 4, 2012 at 9:50 AM  
Blogger karental said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

April 4, 2012 at 9:51 AM  
Blogger Jimmie said...

I don't want to do without my George Foreman grill. I rarely fry anything anymore and whatever grease goes into the little tray is not going into my body. Heck, my mom even uses George for frozen french fries...I make mine fresh in the oven, but I'm just saying, George can cook about anything.

Mostly low-tech suits me just fine, although I have to remind myself from time to time that I've slipped into using something that's more convenient without thinking of the consequences on the earth or my pocketbook.

I do struggle with using those new-fangled lightbulbs. I use them, but I still don't like the light they provide.

Diane in North Carolina

April 4, 2012 at 9:53 AM  
Blogger Mindy said...

I don't have a microwave and I try to line dry as much as possible but I wouldn't give up any of my kitchen appliances (most importantly my Kitchenaid Stand Mixer) for any amount of money. They help me achieve greater culinary heights and let me take my cooking to the next level and that's how I unwind - trying new recipes and experimenting with techniques.

I go technology free a few nights a week - no iPhone, no computer, no television - not because I'm opposed to those technologies, but because it clears my head. As Prince so famously said, "The internet fills your head with numbers," and while it's a crazy notion there's something to it. It does make my mind kind of jumbled.

April 4, 2012 at 9:54 AM  
Blogger Knit Picky Knitter said...

As a working (outside the home) mother of four kids, the dishwasher, washer and dryer are my best friends. I never seem to get caught up on dishes and dirty clothes. So much correspondence from my kids' school comes through email - I would be too disconnected without it and my kids are requred to type up some of their homework so we really need at least one computer. We don't have cable but enjoy netflix through the wii which is used more for that than any games. I just spent five days in San Diego and the interesting thing is, I didn't miss any of my everyday possessions. Granted, I didn't have to cook or clean ANYTHING but it made it very clear to me that I can live without a lot of CRAP, not just technology but all the other messy stuff we accumulate in our lives. There are four things or groups of things I would not like to live without - my knitting stuff (a lot of yarn stash and needles), my books (probably over 1000 books in our home), pictures of my family, and I do love my jewelry. The rest is just clutter. My kids create a lot of clutter and paper is my worst enemy. I love my iPhone but I think it has put a spell on me and turned me into a lazy apps zombie. I spend way too much down time playing Bejeweled. I would be much better off without this toxic and addictive relationship in my hectic life. I think I would prefer the life of a nomad and just carry everything I need on my back - maybe in my next life.

April 4, 2012 at 10:02 AM  
Blogger ~~Melissa said...

Am I really going to be the only one who says power outages = sex? No wonder people who live off the grid look so happy. //I'm like you, I like my gizmos to work for me, not control me.

April 4, 2012 at 10:05 AM  
Blogger Knit Picky Knitter said...

As a working (outside the home) mother of four kids, the dishwasher, washer and dryer are my best friends. I never seem to get caught up on dishes and dirty clothes. So much correspondence from my kids' school comes through email - I would be too disconnected without it and my kids are requred to type up some of their homework so we really need at least one computer. We don't have cable but enjoy netflix through the wii which is used more for that than any games. I just spent five days in San Diego and the interesting thing is, I didn't miss any of my everyday possessions. Granted, I didn't have to cook or clean ANYTHING but it made it very clear to me that I can live without a lot of CRAP, not just technology but all the other messy stuff we accumulate in our lives. There are four things or groups of things I would not like to live without - my knitting stuff (a lot of yarn stash and needles), my books (probably over 1000 books in our home), pictures of my family, and I do love my jewelry. The rest is just clutter. My kids create a lot of clutter and paper is my worst enemy. I love my iPhone but I think it has put a spell on me and turned me into a lazy apps zombie. I spend way too much down time playing Bejeweled. I would be much better off without this toxic and addictive relationship in my hectic life. I think I would prefer the life of a nomad and just carry everything I need on my back - maybe in my next life.

April 4, 2012 at 10:07 AM  
Blogger Matt B said...

We turned off our TV service about a year ago and other than during severe weather we haven't missed it. Now that the local TV stations broadcast their weather coverage online I don't miss it a bit. I could do with out just about any of it (at least I believe I could). I work as an IT Professional and have always said I could easily work high tech all day long and go home and live like the Amish.

April 4, 2012 at 10:10 AM  
Blogger Jenna said...

Melissa, i love that!

April 4, 2012 at 10:14 AM  
Blogger Lisa at lil fish studios said...

I can do without a lot of things, even my beloved kitchenaid mixer, but the washing machine is the one must-have. With four down-in-the-dirt kids and two hard-working adults in the house, I'd spend way too much time banging clothes against rocks in the river without it.

April 4, 2012 at 10:33 AM  
Blogger Noël McNeil said...

I'm pretty sure I couldn't live with out some kind of AC. I live in northern CA and it can get up to 117 or hotter in the summer easy. Not too fun whether you have AC or not. :(

April 4, 2012 at 10:33 AM  
Blogger Melina said...

We have been pondering this a lot lately. We currently have no tv, no microwave, dishwasher, coffee maker, etc.

Robert was living off the grid when I met him. It was an incredible time in our lives. Now we are seriously considering a piece of property off the grid. I'm not willing to give up the internet or my laptop. I don't use it for movies or show. I need it for my job and I think it is helpful for research related to farming. It is a good tool for sharing our experiences with others. And I like having a digital camera. That being said there is only so much I can take of sitting in front of a computer.

April 4, 2012 at 10:36 AM  
Blogger Melina said...

We have been pondering this a lot lately. We currently have no tv, no microwave, dishwasher, coffee maker, etc.

Robert was living off the grid when I met him. It was an incredible time in our lives. Now we are seriously considering a piece of property off the grid. I'm not willing to give up the internet or my laptop. I don't use it for movies or show. I need it for my job and I think it is helpful for research related to farming. It is a good tool for sharing our experiences with others. And I like having a digital camera. That being said there is only so much I can take of sitting in front of a computer.

April 4, 2012 at 10:37 AM  
Blogger Cat said...

Hmm, guess I'm somewhere in the middle. Don't own a smart phone and only recently upgraded to a phone with a keyboard for texting. We don't have any paid TV but can get a couple of channels with rabbit ears and a lot of fiddling with it (so we very rarely do). We do get Netflix streaming, for now, but are thinking of cancelling it once we finish the Little Men series we're watching as a family. My kids do have a Wii and can play it about once a week for an hour.

The dishwasher and a/c are two items I really don't want to live without right now. With five young kiddos and cooking and eating most meals at home, the dishwasher is a big help. Yes, I COULD do without it, but I prefer not to right now. And a/c, well, it's in the 100's here almost every day for at least two months of the summer (last month for all of June, July, and August), so a/c makes it bearable. If we move sometime in the future, say to a place where high temps are in the 90's or less, we might consider forgoing it if we have windows that open and get a good breeze.

Microwave, we have the hood kind so it's there, but is only occasionally used for a plate of leftovers or something. Not convinced they are save, so most reheating and all cooking is done the old-fashioned way.

Great topic!

April 4, 2012 at 10:37 AM  
Blogger MIB said...

Let's see. Thinking back to our 5-day power outage after Hurrucane Irene, I guess my A list/must-haves are water pump, washing machine, oven, and cell phone (I like knowing I reach someone if I need help). My B list/don't-want-to-give-up-for-more-than-a-few-days are stove, internet connection (we sell our sheep that way!), CD/DVD player (I tend to do most of my knitting with something on in the background), and lights, in that order. My C list, things I tend to use as time savers but could probably do without, are the microwave, dishwasher, and clothes dryer. We gave up on any TV service awhile ago and don't miss it (news, emergency info, etc., come from the radio). And we don't really use other appliances: no hair dryer, food processor, etc.

April 4, 2012 at 10:47 AM  
Blogger Christee said...

I do enjoy my computer and a proper working dishwasher. Since we moved from AZ to NM the house we are in now the dishwasher is a POS and the electrical is old and not very efficient running the dryer is expensive, it is also cooled by a swamp cooler which is ok. I grew up in AZ without AC, a dryer, dishwasher and the like. I now ENJOY hanging the laundry on the line and staring out the kitchen window while I hand wash dishes. I noticed something about the dryer, no matter how many dryer sheets or Bounce bars you can't get rid of static electricity! Hanging you laundry eliminates that though. :) I have an electric percolater, that was the last gift from my Mom before she died, I use it when I want just a bit of coffee. I inherited my Grandma's KitchenAide mixer from the 60's and I use it with my kids to make cakes and cookies. My KitchenAide also has the grinder attachment so I take advantage of sirloin on sale to make ground beef. LOVE my crockpot too but the cast iron dutch oven is better.

We are moving back to AZ sometime in May and I WILL NOT live without AC. The rest of my family, husband and kids, seem to not be able to live without satelite TV. I am home during the day and rarely turn on the TV, my entertainment comes from either outside, NPR or the iPod.
Once we get back to AZ and eventually buy our next house there will be things that are not as important as having enough land for my chickens, goats and garden. I do want to install a solar system in the next house to take advantage of ALL the sun in AZ then a power outage won't bother me in the least.

April 4, 2012 at 10:54 AM  
Blogger E said...

Short term (day to day), I can do without everything but my laptop & internet and woodstove.

I already live w/o microwave, dishwasher, AC & TV (never had), central heating, running water in the winter, an oven (I miss it, but share with neighbors), phone and WC. Also share washing machine and seldom used dryer with neighbors.

April 4, 2012 at 10:55 AM  
Blogger Helena said...

We've actually downgraded our technology a bit recently. Switched to prepaid cell phones and ditched the cable (we do still have an antenna, husband wasn't ready to give up TV completely). The one thing we would be hard-pressed to do without is the air conditioning. It's already hot here (FL), and summers are pretty wicked. I don't feel the heat as much as my husband and daughter do, but even I retreat indoors to shade and AC when temps are in the high 90s.

April 4, 2012 at 10:55 AM  
Blogger Victoria said...

We don't have cable, but we do have a TV with an antenna for the network channels. My husband has his XBOX which used to bug me, but now I see it as his destresser after a day at work, and it bothers me much less. Plus, we use it to watch Netflix and Hulu. Our way to balance it is to have tech free Sundays. No ipod games, no game systems, no TV, no computer, just music and radio and hanging out. It's such a quiet day. It's mostly for me, but I know the husband and kids get something out of it, too!
Oh, and living in Atlanta, GA, I couldn't imagine going without an air conditioner (especially in July and August), although we have an attic fan that I try to use whenever possible over the AC. Once again, my husband always wants it cooler than I do, so when he's gone during the day, I usually just turn it off. It's a compromise I'm willing to make.

April 4, 2012 at 10:59 AM  
Blogger Glyndalyn said...

The Phony Farm in Tn has air conditioning but is rarely used. Also a never used heat pump. A rarely used dryer, rarely watched TV. No dishwasher, no toaster. Never miss them. One very old cell phone because I take call. Microwave available for reheating. One laptop.

April 4, 2012 at 11:00 AM  
Blogger QuilterMary said...

I microwave, I wash and dry clothes in a machine, I have and use a dishwasher. Love my iPhone and iPad. BUT - today I am, by hand, soaking and washing wool from my CAF workshop so it can dry so I can continue on with my drop spindle.

April 4, 2012 at 11:13 AM  
Blogger Sarah said...

I second the idea of selling off the dryer and dishwasher for scrap, unless, like my grandmother, you are using the dishwasher as a storage device for extra pots and pans. :)

The only thing that I would advocate your upgrading might be your laptop. In order to produce your webinars in a time-efficient way, you might find that the extra processing power and speed worth the bump to make them happen more timely. As that's a income raising avenue for you, it might be worth an investment to make it work more efficiently.

April 4, 2012 at 11:26 AM  
Blogger Jenn said...

I don't think I could live (okay I have, in the past but it's still painful and I don't want to talk about it) without my computer and the internet. And our electric stove. Aside from that we've booted the cable and the tv, we don't carry cellphones (although I am definitely coveting an iPhone), I would be thrilled to pieces if our homephone blew up, we'll be going the summer sans a/c this year as the farm house doesn't have it and it's circuits couldn't take a window rattler, I've stopped using my dryer since we moved here because we have fabulous clothes lines, and we try to use our woodstove more than the oil furnace, but it's just not made to heat a house this size, so next winter we're installing a second stove on the other side of the house and not filling the oil tanks. We'll see how that goes! The less tech stuff we have the better I feel. Unless it were the internet, then I'd just feel like crap ;)

April 4, 2012 at 11:48 AM  
Blogger Marianne said...

I would love to be without my dryer, for about a year, we went without one. Then, my daughter started breaking out in hives, allergies in full swing, and we traced it back to hanging clothes out back (we have a woods full of trees and weeds behind us), so we ended up with a dryer. I have no cell phone, but my daughter has one of those pay as you go ones. I personally can live without people not being able to reach me for a bit. I would love to be without cable, the dishwasher, etc, but my family would probably run me out of town! Ah well, my youngest goes off to college in 4 years, won't they be shocked when they come to visit?

April 4, 2012 at 11:50 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

We don't have cable, dishwasher, micowave.

We do have a washer & dryer, toaster oven, clothes line for summer, a/c (we live in bermuda triangle of the southeast - so called because of the heat/humdity).

We have dvds of our favorite shows and movies. Hadn't bought any in a long time. We don't watch tv.

My cell phone is so old, 5 yrs, the rubber on it is degrading. It's high tech, it has a camera but I don't have internet on it so I can't get the photos off of it.

I am taking a class on Whole Grains and learning to soak, sprout, and cook with grains. A mixer, grain mill, dehydrator, etc are used in the class. I didn't have any of those and am trying to figure out if I need them or can do it all manually. My Grandmother didn't have all this stuff, surely I don't need it to make whole grain food.

If I didn't have the modern stuff, tiller, etc. I wouldn't have a garden. It was easier to rent a tiller than build raised beds.

But my husband grew up on a working farm and he told me all their time was spent on providing food for themselves. There was no time for anything else. They grew lots of their food, canned/freezed it, hunted, etc. And he does not want to go back to that way of life. Your description of your life reminds me of living that way.

When conveniences came into our lives, we were freed up to do more than having to do such hard work everyday. Now that it's been years since most people have lived like that, there is a movement to go back to living off the land. Somewhere inbetween how it used to be when we were growing up, we are in our fifties, and how it is now is for me. My goal is to be healthy and live as simple as possible without making it harder to live.

I admire how you want to live. I hope you have the wisdom to take good care of yourself now while you are young so when you are older you can still do a lot. The kind of life you're living requires a healthy body and mind. And it doesn't get easier to achieve as one gets older, it gets harder.

April 4, 2012 at 11:52 AM  
Blogger Sara Thompson said...

It took a lot of convincing and conjoling to get my family to give up cable. We now use the computer for tv so it's not perfect but I'm hoping to start unplugging more and doing things in the evenings that don't include the television.

April 4, 2012 at 12:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Necessary: Computer (I'm a writer, too!) (we're a one computer household) and the washer/dryer. We cloth diaper our son and well, I'm so thankful for that washing machine since the diapers must be cleaned every two days! However, we're hoping for a clothesline in our next apartment/house and that will eliminate the dryer.

Not necessary: Microwave, smart phone, TV (we have one and it's really nice on occasion to kick back and watch something, but that's just occasionally - that being said, we don't have cable, just Netflix)

April 4, 2012 at 12:30 PM  
Blogger annet said...

I, too, use my clothes dryer in the winter. I and hubby each do a load of laundry about every ten days. We run our dishwasher every 6 days or so (we have enough dishes to really load it up and we constantly reuse our coffee mugs). When I buy technology now it`s a usually very low energy user (a thermal cooker replaces a lot of stove use, a yogurt maker, a rice cooker and 90% of crock pot use). I can do its initial heat up on on any heat source (gas stove, butane burner, wood fire). My husband uses an electric coffee maker, but I`m quite happy with a French press and stove-top espresso maker. I still have a blender and a microwave -- both I use a lot in eliminating potential food waste. Over 95% of my food preservation is by water-bath canning (but I do have a pressure canner for some meat and stock preserving) and solar dehydration.

April 4, 2012 at 12:36 PM  
Blogger Dawn said...

This is a subject I spend a lot of time thinking about in reference to my children (10 month old and another due in 3 1/2 weeks!) What my husband and I have determined is that we would like to essentially replicate what we did as children. Technology was present but definitely not the focus of our lives. I think this is what has changed for most people these days. This is what we do:
*have the cheapest cell phones our servic eprovider offers (not smart phones) and no land line
*try to prioritize kitchen appliance use by energy expenditure (use a toaster oven and microwave on occasion) and ave stove top and oven use for batch cooking and use them more in the winter to help heat the house
*hang 90% of clothes up to dry but raw the line at crunchy towels
*keep our heat and a/c settings as low/high as possible using cross breezes form o-pen windows, fans, and a space heater in winter instead
*use the internet for research and some entertainment but never when we are together
*DVR particular shows we enjoy and set aside a time to watch them together with no distradctions. Otherwise, the TV is off most of the time.
*Walk where we can (a challenge when you live on a farm outside town) and minimize trips in the car
*Built our house with lots of windows so we rarely have to turn on a light and prefer to use candles at night
*this is a BIG one - we avoid all bells and whistles when choosing toys for our child(ren). I do not want my children to grow up thinking that fun needs a battery or to be plugged in the wall. At 10 months, my son already delights in watching the horses and goat in the field and howls with laughter at the antics of the chickens and guineas. He even had a bath the other day in a shallow water trough!
I suppose you could sum this up by saying we do not eschew technology when it makes things safer, more energy-efficient or, yes, a bit more comfortable but we do so mindfully and make concious choices on our uses. That seems to work for us. Thanks for the thought-provoking post!

April 4, 2012 at 12:45 PM  
Blogger Missy said...

Being in the South, where it gets in the upper 90s and low 100s in the late spring and summer - I could not do without air conditioning. When I lived in Seattle, I did, and when it did get hot in the summer, there wasn't much humidity. There, I would put a box fan in front of a bowl of ice (yes, I did that) and it worked wonders. Here, it is sweltering. I can't imagine a home without AC, but I know people do it. If I had the option to build my own house with natural materials, I would do so in a way that I wouldn't need it (stone floors, breathable structure, etc), but I'm not in that place. I live in a typical brick ranch. We do live on the north side of a hill, so that helps with keeping the house cool in the warmer months. Other than that, I would love to eventually get rid of our microwave. I don't know if the husband would like that. We tend to have a lot of computers around. My husband is a software engineer, so all of his work is based on these things, so he likes gadgets. We finally got rid of cable, but still watch stuff on Netflix and Hulu. We both have smartphones as well, but I could do without that. I don't like the fact that I rely on it so much. It's a love/hate thing. We take it a step at a time. I try to do most cooking with manual kitchen tools rather than electric, but when you want to slowcook, it's difficult not to go electric.

April 4, 2012 at 12:47 PM  
Blogger Lisa said...

Hey Jenna,
You may have already seen this article about a British family trading in their Land Rover for a horse and cart:

thought it fit well into the "questioning technology idea.

April 4, 2012 at 12:55 PM  
Blogger The American Homemaker said...

We have never had any sort of cable at our house. We aren't big tv watchers because I feel it's a waste of time. I don't have a smart phone or anything of the sort. I do like technology in general though :)

April 4, 2012 at 1:00 PM  
Blogger Lyssa said...

We don't have television or cable, though I do go back and forth on Netflix streaming. I could easily live without my clothes dryer and dishwasher, phone if I didn't need it for work, and pretty much everything gadget in the kitchen, though I'm not sure the rest of the family would agree.

The appliance I'd go to battle for is the automatic litterbox. If I lived in the middle of nowhere, I'd rig up a solar panel for that marvelous thing.

April 4, 2012 at 1:13 PM  
Blogger Christine said...

I don't have a microwave or dishwasher. I wouldn't give up the tv because I love the Food Network too much, but I have found that at times in my life when I haven't had cable, I haven't missed it one bit. I would be lost without my computer/internet. I wouldn't give up my camera, and I use my Keurig coffee maker a lot (though mostly for making baby pablum).
I think a lot of electric/electronic devices are great conveniences and we feel like we couldn't live without them, but in reality, we don't miss them when they're gone.
I do think you'll miss your dryer next winter though Jenna! I love to line dry, but not in the cold months.

April 4, 2012 at 1:17 PM  
Blogger Christine said...

Great discussion by the way! I think you should give us more of these 'prompting' questions to stimulate friendly reader conversation.

April 4, 2012 at 1:18 PM  
Blogger tjs said...

No Smartphone, No dishwasher (except me lol), and no Microwave. I would LOVE to ditch the TV, but the rest of my clan might mutiny. I prefer to read. I do need my laptop (for work) and the Internet, however after I log off for the day I aviod it as much as I can.

I will not give up AC, we get pretty hot here in the Summer (90+) and I have small kids that would be miserable.

April 4, 2012 at 1:25 PM  
Blogger Spilly said...

I am curious about the lack of toasters. I am open to the idea of ditching mine but what is the best way to make toast then? I hate to fire up the oven just for a slice of toast, it seems wasteful.

April 4, 2012 at 1:33 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Fabulous topic! I am single so some things make more sense for one person but not a family of several. I hang my clothes to dry inside the house, having not used my dryer in 2-3 years. I do use the microwave a lot and don't plan on changing that unless they find out that it causes cancer (it uses less electricity). I use small appliances such as crock pot, toaster oven, rotisserie etc. that use less electricity than my large electric stove/oven. I don't drink coffee, but do have an electric iced tea maker that is used regularly! The cable tv will go when I no longer have a roomate that requires it hor the 52" flatscreen tv, I can watch most any of my documentaries and discovery/history shows on broadband. I have only a 'dumb' phone and that works fine for me, I am as connected as I need to be. I do text with my phone, which keeps me in touch with friends and family far away as I am a shift worker with a wackie schedule. My brother hates to talk on the phone but will text with me so I consider this a good good thing! I appreciate this type of post and the conversation that it initiates so I/we can learn about more things that might work for us, but that we had not previously considered! Thanks Jenna and everyone else!

April 4, 2012 at 1:38 PM  
Blogger Lauren said...

Both my boyfriend and I are on our laptops too much. We were talking about it recently and decided that we wouldn't go on our computers while eating.

It's different for him, as he has ADD and I see the need for him to always be fiddling with something in order to think properly. He has a smart phone and is on it constantly to check Reddit or play Angry Birds in Space. I want to respect him, but also get annoyed sometimes when I'm talking to him and don't get a response because he's watching a Starcraft video (he's a little bit of nerd, if you couldn't tell. :)). So, I bought a deck of cards for us to play while we're eating or waiting for dinner. I'm trying to think of other non-electronic distractions but haven't yet.

I do really enjoy my computer and being able to read interesting things on the internet or watch Season 5 of Weeds on Netflix, but I really am trying to lessen my time on it.

Otherwise, I definitely can live without the TV, A/C, always keep the heater on low in the winter, and would love to have a clothesline. Though I love the principles of hand washing dishes, I have come to appreciate the dishwasher as I have found that is my least favorite chore.

April 4, 2012 at 1:38 PM  
Blogger Jenna said...

i put bread on the woodstove. I do have a toaster in my closet for workshops where i serve bagels, but it is in hiding, like the microwave i only use to show people how to make cheese!

April 4, 2012 at 1:38 PM  
Blogger DebH said...

"I" would figure it out. "I" am best when it comes to that. "I" love it actually. "My" children seem to have that same genetic gene. On many a winter night in this part of the country, we've been without electricity for hours on end. Best part about it...the quiet.

April 4, 2012 at 1:41 PM  
Blogger quiltaholic said...

My husband would not like me if we didn't have AC here in the summer. I get miserably grouchy when it's humid - not a pretty sight!

The dryer, TV, microwave and dishwasher could go though. I wouldn't miss them a bit.

As a quilter, I do love my sewing machines - but could live without them if necessary. The old treadle machines may not have been fast, but they sure were pretty! (and they still work, 100 years later)

I do also really like my radio/mp3 player, as I like to have music on for background noise. Could I live without it? Sure - Do I want to? Not really.

April 4, 2012 at 1:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

PS...I don't have a dishwasher either. It takes too long for one or 2 persons to generate enough dishes to fill it up, and I don't like how it drys out and etches the glasses. Much too invasive in my opinion, I like to wash by hand/air dry and am very concious of the amount of water I use while doing so.

April 4, 2012 at 1:48 PM  
Blogger Val said...

I'm with you. No microwave, A/C, toaster, electric kitchen gadgets, or TV, no central heating system (wood stove) and solar hot water. Losing power isn't so bad except for the darn water pump....

The laptop and iPhone are the gadgets that I love to hate/hate to love.

April 4, 2012 at 2:27 PM  
Blogger The Village Queen said...

Well I would hate to live without my computer. It truely is a window to the world. I dont have a smart phone, cost mainly and really whos life is so important they have to check email and text people every second? My sister does that and its so rude. Like that tv commercial where the guy is watching the game in his lap while his girlfriend is trying to talk to him. Such a illustration of how society seems to be shifting to where people dont matter....
And yea I like tv but not attached to it as I used to be, now get lots of dvds from the lib.
Must have my sewing machines as thats how I make my living as well as hobbies... Do have a treadle if the end of the world happens.
For a single person cooking for one, a dishwasher isnt useful, and dont have one anyway as the house is 100 years old. Do micro after cooking a big pot, here electric is 1/4 of the cost of my gas stove.
Do use the dryer and would perfer to hang out but live behind a 6 lane artery to downtown that is a parking lot 2 times a day and the car smog gets on everything. I need to move.
So some things I need and some I can do without and I really wish I had AC in the summer. But its only bad for a few weeks, so not worth the cost to fit something in the tiny odd windows of my quirty old house. Good topic!

April 4, 2012 at 2:40 PM  
Blogger Tara said...

You will pry my toaster from my cold, dead hands. Even my current toaster - I hate it, it's utterly diabolical, and yet I'd chose it over my smartphone any day. I love toast.

A/C here is non-negotiable. To not have it in Texas would be akin to you not having any kind of heat source, I think. We long ago got ride of satellite TV, and all we had to watch was Netflix (no local channels either). I LOVED this arrangement. We had TV-type entertainment when we really wanted it, but it wasn't "too convenient" anymore. We couldn't just turn it on and play whatever. That really cut down on our time spent in front of it, and I didn't miss it AT ALL. Unfortunately, our internet provider just sent us a free Roku box. My husband is over the moon, and I'm...less than thrilled with its arrival, let's just say.

@Melissa - unfortunately, power outages here have NO consideration for sexy fun times. :) They happen either in the middle of a REALLY hot day, which means the a/c is off, which means you have no desire to touch another living creature for any reason, or it's at 3:00 am and you're dog tired and/or have to be up for work in 3 hours. Mother nature and I must really have a chat about that!

April 4, 2012 at 2:46 PM  
Blogger Ann said...

I would most miss my refrigerator(horrors) and my clothes dryer. I don't use fabric softner and my dryer wasn't working for a few weeks, so everything got hung outside. The towels were the worst!! Also, I have sat and thought about our crazy world and what if the electricity were gone. I could cook on my gas grill and heat in my fireplace but how would I keep my sweet tea cold??? Ha

April 4, 2012 at 2:50 PM  
Blogger Jennifer said...

Has anyone read "7 - An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess"? I have yet to read it, but it was recommended to me by a friend and it's definitely intriguing. I should say that it's faith-based, but it seems like it would resonate no matter what your beliefs.

April 4, 2012 at 2:52 PM  
Blogger spike said...

When we moved out of the city and 30 minutes away from even a gas station...I gave up my iPhone, cable and television in general. We used a USB internet modem till last week when we got boradband via power lines. We now can watch hulu but we haven't really been interested.

At first I hated not having my iPhone anymore. No more random photos or getting my very important e-mail instantly (it isn't that important after all). Now when our friends visit from the city, we promptly confiscate their smartphones. It is amazing how attached we get to those silly things.

I realized I watched too much television too. I'm not anti-television...I just watched it nearly everyday before. I'm back to reading myself to sleep again. I finish a minimum of two books a week. I love visiting the library again. I also love the mail box. I'm writing letters after years of quick e-mails. It feels romantic.

In the kitchen...we have a propane gas stove and oven. There is a microwave but we don't use it. It is built in and I store bread in it. I'm a little afraid of microwaves. I do use a dish washer.

I'm on the computer doing graphics work around 20 hours a week. Other than that...I catch up on favorite blogs ;) and check out 'faceplant' to see pics of my favorite little ones.

April 4, 2012 at 2:55 PM  
Blogger Jenny Glen said...

I have lived without tv for 8 years and was fine,(however I like having it now) but I had a computer and that was before blogging and I didn't do much emailing. Mostly just reading interesting websites. Now, I think I'd die without my laptop. I get twitchy just thinking about it. When we travel to trials, once in a while I have no internet connection. I almost get hives until we get back to where there is a signal. I know, pathetic.

April 4, 2012 at 3:08 PM  
Blogger John Taylor said...

Living in AZ I need the A/C.

We gave up the cable service but not the television itself. I would not give up my computer, ipad or kindle as each one is useful and some are needed for work.

Grace and Peace,


April 4, 2012 at 3:10 PM  
Blogger Elizabeth from the Berkshires said...

The dishwasher makes a wonderful storage area! Ours hasn't worked in years, but I wouldn't trade it for cabinets, because it would be so much harder to store the weirdly shaped things we have in there now. Ours houses an enormous ladle, several lids for cast iron pans, a french bread loaf pan, an apple peeler (the kind with the crank that peels and slices at the same time), a big thermometer, cooling racks, potato mashers, canning jar lifter,...

April 4, 2012 at 3:35 PM  
Blogger Amy said...

Can my answer be geographically filtered? Where I live now, I'd need A/C for the really hot humid days in summer (not a heat fan), prob my iphone & computer, then all my kitchen gadgets (blender, KitchenAid, coffee maker), and I hate to say it, but a washer & dryer too (don't trust drying my clothes in the air around here..ack). I could easily go without tv- as I read all the time anyway.

But up at the cabin in Northern Wis? I could do without just about all of it except for washer, computer and a basic cell phone(ok I'd still love my kitchen gadgets too- too much fun creating with them!)

btw, whoever said it was more "romantic" to write letters above- you are so right!! Was looking through all my grandmother's old letters she had saved...they wrote notes for ALL occasions and the writing was beautiful (both in words and to look at). I think we should all handwrite letters again!

April 4, 2012 at 4:08 PM  
Blogger Margie said...

Living in Louisiana, you have to have a/c or just about die. Summers here are long and miserable. I remember all too well growing up in southern part of Arkansas and not having a/c. We did have ceiling fans to stir the air. The only places with a/c were the drug store and the movie. In church, we all used mortuary fans. In case you've never heard of them, they are small hand fans with advertising from the various mortuaries mprinted on them. Thank goodness for a/c.

April 4, 2012 at 5:20 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I could drop the tv, the grid(go to solar) , my phone is a basic "dumb phone", i have no dishwasher....... I read old fashioned books that don't need to be charged.....

what i could not imagine giving up is internet service (shivers).....

April 4, 2012 at 5:21 PM  
Blogger Amanda said...

Another Southerner here that would rather not do without the AC. Perhaps if I lived in an older house that was built for this climate, I could do without... one with larger windows and a breezeway.

I view all technology the same, is it truly useful or a time waster? My hand operated meat grinder is low tech, but still tech. I have moderate rheumatoid arthritis that is well controlled, but without my KitchenAid and a bread maker, I would bake far less. I could probably give up my dryer easily, but not my washer. I have to decide where to spend the energy I have, and it usually goes to the garden or to my fiber crafts and sewing. I went without a microwave for a long time and have one again. I'd love to ditch it, but I still use it to defrost meat all of the time. I never remember to pull anything out of the freezer the day before. We get all of our meat from a CSA and it's all frozen. Maybe when this one dies, as I suspect it might any day now, I can learn to go without.

So what is truly helpful? I think that's going to be different for different folks. We don't have cable television, but we do have access to movies and such via Netflix. There ends the temptation to just turn it on and get sucked in. I have to decide to watch something in particular. My husband works at home as a programmer, so the internet is essential.To be perfectly honest, I'd feel pretty isolated without it. But it can be a huge time sink. I need to have a bit more self control when it comes to being online.

One thing I have been trying to do is obtain backups for everything that requires electricity, though. We had a terrible terrible flood here several years ago and people were without power for weeks in some places. I can now cook, make coffee, boil water and do laundry without power. I'm working on the heating part. I'm not a survivalist by any stretch, but I think the biggest danger in relying too heavily on technology is that it leaves you really unprepared for emergencies.

April 4, 2012 at 5:36 PM  
Blogger CarolG. said...

Well, for me my asthma dictates that I possess air conditioning, air filters, central heat, electric stove. I would gladly give up the television set, the dishwasher. I would love to live where I could hang my laundry outside on nice days. I love the phone on the wall and am successfully resisting getting a cell phone. The computer is very nice but I could live without it. It's good to tailor technology to individual needs rather than just purchasing what "everyone else" has.

April 4, 2012 at 6:47 PM  
Blogger Jimmie said...

Am I the only one who actually LIKES the rough texture of towels dried on the line? They dry your body so much better and I really do like them a lot. Have I become brainwashed? Most likely not, when you consider that folks my age (60s) grew up without a dryer and did just fine. I also don't use fabric softeners any longer; I use vinegar in the rinse water...the smell is gone once the clothes dry.

Just my opinion on the towels, not a rant.

Diane in North Carolina

April 4, 2012 at 7:01 PM  
Blogger TwoBlueHeelers said...

I'm embarrassed to say that we signed up for Dish Network TV last August, because we were expecting a weekend visit from a difficult and demanding relative (my mother). This was a rather desperate way of offering entertainment to someone who is very hard to deal with. They came on Friday, they stared at TV most of the time, and they left again on Sunday morning. I didn't get even a thank you, but now have a monthly bill for two years... and could hit my head against the wall. I'm done with trying to please my Mom. I don't think it can be done. :(

Don't buy satellite TV for a relative; it is not worth it!

April 4, 2012 at 7:08 PM  
Blogger Jennifer said...

@ Diane in North Carolina, I love the texture of clothing (especially towels) dried on the line!

I don't plan to replace my TV, microwave, or dryer when they die. I can easily hang my clothes to dry year-round since I live alone and don't really have that many clothes. I barely use my microwave as it is, and my TV was turned on for a movie just the past weekend (first time in over six months.) I've been limiting my "screen time" on my computer (at home) as well, since I am on a computer at work all day long. I have a Nook and a netbook, but that's about it.

I hate AC, but Ohio summers are very humid. Even so, when my window air conditioner dies, I'm not planning to replace it. It's too expensive to replace, really.

April 4, 2012 at 7:23 PM  
Blogger Rebecca said...

Have you read "Better Off: Flipping the Switch on Technology" by Eric Brende? It is a combo of: reducing use of technology, the Amish, and farming. :-)

Here's the description: "What happens when a graduate of MIT and his bride move to a community so primitive in its technology that even Amish groups consider it antiquated?"

"Eric Brende conceives a real-life experiment: to see if, in fact, all our cell phones, wide-screen TVs, and SUVs have made life easier and better -- or whether life would be preferable without them. By turns, the query narrows down to a single question: What is the least we need to achieve the most?"
"With this in mind, the Brendes ditch their car, electric stove, refrigerator, running water, and everything else motorized or "hooked to the grid" and begin an eighteen-month trial run -- one that dramatically changes the way they live, and proves entertaining and surprising to readers."

April 4, 2012 at 7:34 PM  
Blogger Suzanne said...

Yay! I am finally like Jenna- I havent replaced my broken dishwasher either~ :-) I have to have my tiller for my garden, my keurig coffee maker (its just me so only one a day) and i have a trash compactor that I couldnt imagine living w/o when my kids were still at home. Less room in the landfill. I would like to get rid of the tv someday but have to have my laptop to keep up with my blogs and work and social networking. Hoping to get a clothesline this year. Great subject jenna~

April 4, 2012 at 8:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here's the thing--for me it would be very different if I was living alone. My husband isn't willing to give up t.v. and cable, though he watches little of it these days, spending more time on the computer gaming and listening to audiobooks. I could definitely give up tv and use my laptop only for news, blogging and some light entertainment (mine also will play DVD's and has a decent sized screen). I do want my ipod--I can't live without music wherever I am. I may have to take it to the grave, LOL!

I could do without the dryer (though frozen clothes do not appeal to me), but need the washer. I can't imagine life without my toaster. To run any kind of oven for a couple pieces of toast isn't logical or saving in anyway and I do enjoy my toast. I mostly use the microwave for defrosting and reheating and if alone, I'd let it go.

If alone, I wouldn't make so many things that required the use of mixers, food processers and such, but I'm thinking my crockpot is more economical than running the oven for hours with a cast iron pot in it. As long as I have electricity, I'll use my crockpot, though, if cooking only for myself, not as much.

I have a very "dumb" and simple cell phone, which I use only a couple of times a week. Husband is not ready to give up the land line (for practical reasons, he says), but I could certainly do without having it.

We have a geothermal heat pump and I'm not return to woodburning stoves unless I have to. It dries out everthing in the house (especially our sinuses and skin) and brings in all sorts of unsavory critters, along with pollen and mold. I lived with one for years. I also couldn't handle the physical end of hauling in wood any more. I'm not giving up my a.c. either, unless forced to by not having electricity. It gets very hot and humid here for extended time periods in summer.

All sorts of opinions on this...interesting question. Made me really thing about it.

April 4, 2012 at 8:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jimmie/Diane---I also like the towels dried on the line, but then I'm 61, also, so maybe it's a generational thing. My mom fought getting a dryer until I was in my 20's and then she only used it in the freezing dead of winter. I like the fresh air smell and so did she.

I gave up fabric softener years ago, as we all have sensitive skin and get rashes easily. Plus, fabric softeners add an oil residue to your clothes. It actually lessens the absorbancy of things like towels and cloth diapers. I just recently began using the white vinegar in my washer and my dishwasher.

April 4, 2012 at 8:29 PM  
Blogger Holly said...

Writing this by oil lamp. As my friends say, I am returning to 1800's. No tv, no dryer,no dishwasher, have tracphone, and currently disabled 11 year old car. What I do have is books (public library), huge garden,chickens, 2 homeschooled children and time to pursue homesteading. Plan to go off-grid when I improve mini-farm(closing on May 1st) to habitable standard,complete with outhouse, woodstove, and animals. Less is more:)

April 4, 2012 at 10:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Have you read the book Better Off: Flipping the Switch on Technology? Look it up. I greatly enjoyed it - and think of it often.

April 4, 2012 at 10:39 PM  
Blogger Kira said...

This is a very intriguing post for me. I didn't get a cell phone until 2009. I saw no reason to have one as I never get any phone calls and hate talking on the phone. But, I gave in finally and now I have an iPhone. I really enjoy it, but also realize its place. I do not use it when in the company of another living person. I hate to see people sitting at a table each with their smart phones out "talking" to other people and ignoring the person in front of them. Ugh! And for years I resisted having a microwave. Actually, I still would resist but my dog is on a special diet now and being able to heat (note, not reheat) the veggies I add to her morsels each night is something I quite appreciate. Certainly, I could and would give up the microwave without any qualms but it is rather convenient - and in this particular case I do think it's saving energy as compared to heating up my gas burners to warm a few vegetables. My microwave is almost exclusively used to heat veggies and coffee. And I've never had a dishwasher. I can't see any reason (other than convenience/water savings and sterilizing canning jars) to have one. But if one magically appeared in my kitchen I think I'd jump for joy I'd give up the iPhone and microwave for a dishwasher. And clothes drying - I live in the Pacific Northwest so having a dryer is vital in the winter but as soon as the rain stops, my line comes out and I hang all my clothes. I love it. It really makes me appreciate clean clothes when they've been dried in the (oh, too rare where I live) sun. About 8 months ago I gave up cable TZV and have never looked back. What I watch is available online and that's enough for me. Actually I prefer it. I don't waste as much time watching silly TV anymore. Technology has it's place; you just have to know what that place is and manage it!

April 4, 2012 at 10:40 PM  
Blogger Bluebelle Quilts said...

The need for a home phone and satellite television is currently under discussion in our house. (If I were single, the home phone, TV and microwave would have been long gone by now.) I recently switched from a plain Jane cell phone to an Android smart phone and I love it! It has helped increase my productivity and has lessened the need to carry my laptop, bulky agenda book and assorted devices around with me.

Reliable, high speed internet with Wi-Fi is essential as we both do work from home. I quilt and love to stream Pandora radio or listen to audiobooks & podcasts while I work on projects. My sewing machine and iron are two must-haves. I also like my cold a/c, washing machine and ice maker.

As much as I love my techie gadgets, I still prefer the printed word and love to write with a nice pen.

April 4, 2012 at 10:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh, I forgot about sewing machine technology! I quilt and sew a lot of home dec...and have done plenty of clothing over the years (my daughters' church clothes were sewn by me for many years.) I love my Brother high-tech machine and my fancy serger, BUT!!.....I also have two treadle machines that work and could do whatever was "necessary" with them, if necessary. As long as I have fabric, I can have clothes, curtains, etc. I love that feeling of security!

April 4, 2012 at 11:16 PM  
Blogger KiwiGirl said...

Hmm, the TV and Sky (our NZ version of cable) is staying...big trouble if those went. TV stays off as much as possible at our place though.

Essentials seem to be washing machine (2 growing kids = lots of laundry), Kenwood mixer (it is over 40+ years old and was my grandma's and then my mum's before it passed to me, so I think we have had our use from it), solar water heating system (lots of hot water for free) and dishwasher.

I have a cellphone but use it fairly infrequently, more of a lifeline if something happens really. Computer is nice to have at home, but our local library has free internet so I guess I could survive if need be.

April 4, 2012 at 11:47 PM  
Blogger Erin said...

i have two boys and knowing what i do abour brain development, and enhancing that by connecting to nature, that is our path. we don't have a TV, or watch DVD's, they /we don't play or own any video games, no smart or other phones, and i have a very basic, cheap cell phone that i only answer from one person (my partner) and only phone out to a handful of people. no ipods etc etc. computer time is usually in the am, and i check photo my sharing site, my blog (when i manage to post) and my home learning emails. that's it.

i do occasionally use the dryer, the toaster oven, the drip coffee maker, the espresso machine. i own no fancy kitchen equipment, i meditate while doing the kitchen work by hand, i love this way of life and mindfulness is a practise in our home, so we listen to gentle music, the sounds of birds and watch the outdoors...slow TV!

thanks for asking :)

April 5, 2012 at 2:11 AM  
Blogger Fernleaf said...

I love this topic! We have ditched cable (first cause we couldn't afford it, and now because we just don't want it) but still lug the TV around for movie nights with friends, but I've noticed that we almost never use it otherwise. I never really caught on to the iPhone craze and so don't have a fancy phone/iPod device. We do have a washer/dryer that my parents bought for us used, but I need to get a clothesline up soon because I can't wait to line dry more than wool socks again. The Microwave was given to us many years ago but we've agreed that once it's done we're not replacing it. The dishwasher is a mixed bag, I'd be perfectly happy not using it, but my roommates can't imagine the thought of not having one.

The biggest technology issue for us is the computers. We are both transitioning wannabe homesteaders with a history of gaming, and sometimes I despise how much time I spend on the computer. Yet I don't have the fortitude to scale it down...

April 5, 2012 at 4:19 AM  
Blogger becky3086 said...

The other day the Internet was down for an hour. We were at a loss at first. Didn't know what to do with ourselves. I then read a book but as soon as it was back on we were on. We don't have directv anymore, couldn't afford it. We have phones but still just use them to make phone calls. As for my kitchen devices there are all sorts of gadget and grills. I could do without most of them except the new meat grinder and slicer. These two definitely help me be more self sufficient.
While I am sure we could do without air conditioning. This is GA and I wouldn't want to.

April 5, 2012 at 6:05 AM  
Blogger said...

If you don't want to freeze-dry clothes in the winter on the line outside, use a nice drying rack and put them in front of the wood stove. They dry pretty fast (I usually set mine out in front of the wood stove overnight) plus it adds a little humidity to the house in the winter dryness.

April 5, 2012 at 7:49 AM  
Blogger rabbit said...

We haven't had a microwave for almost four years-despite family members giving them to us at Christmas, we just politely return them and get something more needed-like jeans!
We seem to kill computers regularly-all older, used models so currently we don't have that. We do have wi-fi though so the iPhone and iPod are the computers. The iPod is also a great source of music, alongside our vinyl and the CBC.
We have a used dishwasher in the garage, there's no room (currently) for it in our kitchen, but I LOATHE doing dishes so am constantly begging to knock a wall down and install it.
Our tv is a refurbished one we bought in 2006(?)afro $150 and it still works! So no fancy upgrade there-we do have satellite tv with an upgrade for certain channels that fuel the hunting/outdoors enthusiast in the house ;) though I could do away with it all and just keep our Netflix. We currently seem to be spending more time than I'd like in front of the box but now that the weathers getting warmer that means more bbqs on the deck and boardgames!
This past fall we switched to woodstove heat and only used the propane as a backup i.e. set the thermostat way down.
No a/c but lots of windows.
We have a washer and dryer, and clothesline. I'm guilty of not using the clothesline year round, I like my dryer soft clothes ;)

April 5, 2012 at 8:43 AM  
Blogger Doug Pitcher said...

I've had a lot of the same thoughts lately. We just moved into a temporary place and didn't get a phone installed for a month. It's weird now when I hear a phone ring. We also don't have a dishwasher and with 3 kids it's a challenge but I'd like to say we now have 5 dishwashers. I work from home so have a computer and internet so I guess we aren't totally void of the world. I'd have a harder time without vehicles as we live 30 minutes from any stores but spring times coming so the garden will start to take care of that need. And since we have a cow and chickens I sometimes think we could get away from going to the store altogether.

April 5, 2012 at 9:58 AM  
Blogger quiltaholic said...

I am so with those who love the feel of towels dried on the line! The do dry you off better - and probably exfoliate at the same time :)

I'm 40, so I don't know if it is really generational though - just the luck of the draw. Many of the folks my age grew up with washers and dryers, but I guess I was the lucky one. We had an old ringer washer, but no dryer. I can remember my mom hanging out the clothes, and she would 'snap' them to straighten them out before hanging them up. She could really make them crack - it was fun to try and get them to crack as loud as hers did. I still can't do it as well, but I love to try :)

April 5, 2012 at 11:00 AM  
Blogger Lyssa said...

Most of our modern houses are designed so badly for thermal insulation and are so dependent on makes me sad when I hear people say "I couldn't live in X without AC", because people did live in those places before AC was invented. Now we just try to have the same houses, jobs and lives regardless of the place we're in, and it doesn't really make sense (I grew up in Phoenix in a house without AC, so I do sympathize!)

Also, towel snapping. Yes. My mom used to have us little ones stand by the basket and hand her things to hang so that she didn't have to bend over so much.

April 5, 2012 at 12:34 PM  
Blogger Brenna said...

I would sorely miss my computer as well. We rent our house right now and moved in about one year ago. Our previous home had a dishwasher but no cable, as opposed to the current place which has cable (included in the rent), but no dishwasher. I would gladly switch back! I found that at our old place, while we had a TV, the lack of cable made it more of a big deal to put something on to watch, because I had to pick out a DVD and really think if I wanted to watch something. More times than not I would head over to the kitchen to bake something or pick up my book instead of flicking on the TV. Now that we have cable, I find myself turning on the TV ALL OF THE TIME. Ugh! Even if there is nothing good on, I will surf through the channels and put something silly on just for the noise. I really need to burn the cable wire. However, I miss my dishwasher every single day. It was so much more efficient and the kitchen stayed so much cleaner without the counters having to be littered with drying dishes on cloths (we cook a lot). What would we do if the power went out? I have thought about that before and honestly, we would be in trouble. We have no form of heating other than electric and ALL of our appliances rely on it as well. When we buy a house a wood stove is on my priority list-you can do so much with them! My parents cooked on theirs and used it for heat during week long blackouts during my childhood. I couldn't do that here...and it's cold in Canada! Thanks for this great topic! It made me really think.

April 5, 2012 at 2:16 PM  
Blogger Kelpie and Collie said...

I have no problems using any power items I need to, and I am glad they exist. I have a pay as you go cell and can't imagine someone having an I or Smart Phone.... what a waste of time!

April 5, 2012 at 2:17 PM  
Blogger kristen said...

I don't have a smart phone or ipad or any of those things - I know I would be tempted to check email and the web for way more than I want to. I don't have a microwave, and I love that. I'm not sure what I would miss most - I actually love when the power goes out, as long as I have running water and a wood stove.

April 5, 2012 at 11:39 PM  
Blogger Fernleaf said...

An interesting thought in connection to those with comments about AC, I read a book called 'Better Off' a few years back and it detailed the journey of a couple living without electricity (mostly) in a small Mennonite (or similar) community for a year. One thing that really stuck with me was that they found themselves better acclimated to the weather since they were out in it working almost every day. During a brief lull from their experiment in midsummer they had AC for a few days, when they returned they found they had regressed, and although the weather was no hotter they reacted to it much worse than before the AC break.

April 6, 2012 at 5:25 AM  
Blogger Rebecca said...

Jenna, Great post and good things for me to ponder, as I am a bit of a technology nut. I am pretty low-key in the kitchen as I eat mostly raw, so I do have a blender and a food processor, but I've lived for the last five years without a microwave and do not miss it. I use my stove top for heating water for tea and for steaming veggies and cooking quinoa or something. I confess to loving my I Phone. I do. There it is. And I love my Mac laptop. TV is getting more and more limited and I rely on my Roku box to watch the three or so TV shows I love (Justified, Mad Men right now). And then there is radio for Tigers baseball. Just came across this bost about storing food without a refrigerator, haven't read it yet, but wanted to share it:

Have fun at the chicken workshop.

April 6, 2012 at 7:09 AM  
Blogger Barbara Dykes said...

Gotta have the internet for research and learning. But I would throw the TV out in a minute - but the Man would be awful mad and I like him too much for that.

So - internet - gotta have, TV - not so much.

Thanks Jenna

April 6, 2012 at 7:15 AM  
Blogger Rachael said...

It's just my husband and I at the moment. And we are constantly reevaluating our needs/wants/must haves/can do withouts. He's a computer guy by trade which means that he has most of the latest and greatest gadgets. But we find ourselves getting rid of more and more in order to simplify. Yes, we have a TV, but we don't have cable. We do watch an occasional show on Hulu or movie, but that happens more in the winter when we're stuck inside. Now that the weather is getting nicer, the garden and animals are taking more of our time, and gladly so. We would prefer to sit outside and watch our chickens than the television; we call them "Chicken TV". We don't have a dishwasher and are seriously considering getting rid of the microwave, being fully aware of the mutationous foods it produces. Other kitchen gadgets are slowly moving out to make way for mason jars and canning pots as we begin producing more of our own food. It's a process.

April 6, 2012 at 10:05 AM  
Blogger katiegirl said...

"I have no problems using any power items I need to, and I am glad they exist." -Kelpie and Collie

I hear you! I'm the same way. Life is too short to spend time washing dishes when I can be outside doing other things. I don't believe in mutant food from microwaves, but I do see how they save so much power versus heating something in the oven. I do line dry clothes sometimes, but in the winter we use the dryer.

And I could not live without AC. Maryland summers are so brutally humid (especially in our area), and until you've lived in a humid place you really don't understand how oppressive the humidity and heat is. You can't even cool off at night!

April 6, 2012 at 1:40 PM  
Blogger Donna Lovesthe Farm said...

Sometimes I wish there was no power (even though we have a back up generator), because I watch way too much TV and I spend way too much time on the Internet. I am an addict, and I have so many "real" things I could do with my time. But I would most definitely mourn the loss of my dishwasher and washing machine if they were gone.

April 7, 2012 at 7:26 PM  

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